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North's Johnson finds home at LaGrange

Staff Photo : John Bohn Recent North Gwinnett graduate Ariel Johnson (10) will play for LaGrange College next season.

Staff Photo : John Bohn Recent North Gwinnett graduate Ariel Johnson (10) will play for LaGrange College next season.

It didn't necessarily go the way it was first planned, but Ariel Johnson has found herself a place to play college basketball.

The recent North Gwinnett grad has committed to play at LaGrange College in southwest Georgia beginning this fall.

Johnson had originally committed to play at NAIA member Auburn University at Montgomery, but was informed in the past few weeks that the coaching staff no longer had a spot on the team available for her.

"She kind of had the rug pulled out from under her at Auburn-Montgomery," North coach Bryan Sellers said. "But (head coach) Mark Isenhour does a great job at LaGrange, and we're very fortunate to be able to get her down there. I'm excited for Ariel."

But it didn't take long for her to visit NCAA Division III member LaGrange, and chose to join the Panthers over similar opportunities at Oglethorpe University and other schools.

"(The AUM situation) was tough, but I prayed about it and (God) led me to LaGrange," Johnson said. "I'm excited. I'm just happy because the coach is a great guy and a great coach."

Johnson was a major factor in the Bulldogs' historic season this past year, averaging 11.7 points and 2.7 assists per game during a 26-4 campaign that saw North post a No. 4 state ranking in Class AAAAA and its first trip to the state Final Four since 1963.

But standing just 5-foot-5, college opportunities weren't easy to come by.

"That's the thing that's been an Achilles heel for her to college coaches -- her size," Sellers said. "But Ariel plays a lot bigger (than 5-5). She was able to do a lot of things for us."

And Johnson is going to continue work to overcome doubts about her size and contribute in big ways at LaGrange, just as she did at North.

"I knew my size gets held against me," Johnson said. "But I work very hard. I've been working out a lot (this summer), so I'm ready."